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When I get time, I read or listen to music. If any is left, I blog!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Beauty and Mystery: At Its Best

Poetry means different things to different people.  To me, it is a world of verse that stretches from a 3-line haiku to a book-length epic.  The best way to sense its spread and depth is to take in the following three quotes:
  • 'Poetry is a mirror, which makes beautiful that which is distorted.'    -  Percy Shelley
  • 'There exist only three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the soldier, the poet. To know, to kill, to create!-  C Baudelaire
  • 'Writing poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon... and waiting for the echo.'  -  Don Marquis
    Great thoughts! This is what makes poetry both beautiful and mysterious.

    There was a time when poets were expected to fit their verses within the framework of rules.  Although with time, this perception has changed, the issue has remained debatable.  It would not therefore be out of place to revisit some of the rules viewed as sacrosanct even today.

    Acrostic 
    Here, the first letters of each line combine to spell a word vertically down the poem.

    'Gather information in lightning speed
    One perfect search engine sufficed the need
    Our transport machine in this time and space
    Get events, facts and ads in wise displays
    Look! Everything is in our fingertips!
    Expansive knowledge now all within grips.'

    - David J Serana

    Cinquain 
    Cinquain has 5 lines. The first one has just 1 word, usually the title of the poem. The second has 2 words that describes the first line. The action is narrated in the the third line in 3 words. The fourth has 4 words to convey the feeling. And the fifth and final line has 1 word that refers to the theme.

    'Tree
    Tall, Green
    Growing, reaching, standing
    Witness to the past
    Future'

    Clerihew 
    Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley, this form of poetry commonly referred to as a Quatrain has 4 lines in a stanza, of which the second and fourth lines rhyme, displaying a similar syllable structure.

    'Sir Christopher Wren
    Said, 'I am going to dine with some men.
    If anyone calls
    Say I am designing St. Pauls.'

    - Edmund Clerihew Bentley

    Couplet
    The most popular type of poetry, the Couplet has stanzas made up of two lines which rhyme with each other. 
     
    'As long as men can breathe, and eyes can see
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.' 

    - –William Shakespeare

    Haiku
    The Haiku originated in Japan. It has three lines having 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. The poem that generally relates to nature, does not rhyme. 
     
    'I love Winnie the Pooh
    Winnie the Pooh loves to eat honey
    Bees chase Winnie the Pooh.'

    Limerick
    A limerick is a humorous poem having 5 lines in a specific pattern. Lines 1, 2 and 5 are long, whereas lines 3 and 4 are shorter. However, all the lines rhyme with each other.

    'There once was a woman of ice
    She never knew how to be nice
    She spent all of her life
    on the edge of a knife
    cutting herself off from advice.'
    - Paul McCann

    Free Verse
    To hell with rhyme, rhythm and rule! The Free Verse is all about freedom of style. Express your thoughts freely. Many modern poets seem to prefer this type of poetry. 
     
    'I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.
    I loaf and invite my soul,
    I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.'

    - Walt Whitman

    Sonnet 
    It is a 14-line poem written in iambic pentameter. The earliest form, 'Petrarchan sonnet' named after the Italian poet Petrarch has two stanzas: an octave (eight lines) followed by a sestet (six lines). The octave presents an argument or an observation, while the sestet counter argues or clarifies. Henry Howard who translated many of the Petrarchan sonnets into English, later modified the structure into a new format having three quatrains followed by a couplet. This came to be known as the Shakespearean sonnet.

    'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
    Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.'

    –William Shakespeare


    A poem is born out of spontaneous inspiration. In reality, inspiration does not follow any rule. However, the fact that a set of rules in any activity invariably brings in essential discipline, cannot be wished away. That must be why Robert Frost once said:
    "Writing Free Verse is like 
    playing tennis with the net down." 
    - Robert Frost